Like most living organisms that are not plants or mammals, the life of an ant begins as an egg. Ant eggs come from the Queen ant, who can be theoretically called the mother or the colony. She is the one that gives life to the whole colony. This happens when princess ants leave the colony and take art in the nuptial flight. They do not partake in this alone.
The male ants, who are also winged leave the colony at the same time and they end up mating with the princesses. They then both drop, with the male ants dying almost instantly while the princesses pluck off their wings and each venture out to find her own unique nest where she will lay her eggs and take care of them to maturity. These will be called her first-born worker ants. From then till her death, as queen supreme, her only job will be to lay eggs and ensure the continuity of her colony. She may lay up to 100,000 eggs a day.
It should be mentioned that during the mating flight, the queen ants, then princesses, will receive sperm from the male ants, which the queen will store in a receptacle chamber that is located in her abdomen. This sperm bank is what she will use all through her life for producing eggs.
Ant eggs can be of two types: fertilized or unfertilized. The queen has the ability to decide when she wants to lay fertilized eggs or not, depending on the needs of the colony. While both types of eggs eventually hatch into ants, the difference comes in the role the ant will take. Unfertilized eggs produce male ants whose sole purpose is to mate with the princess ants. The fertilized eggs produce two types of females. One will be reproductive and another sterile. The productive female will grow to become a princess ant who will one day leave her birth colony, mate and begin her own. The sterile female ants are the majority as they make the worker ants.
A queen ant takes care of her very first brood because at that time she is on her own. She will lay eggs that she knows she can handle at that time. However, once these hatch and become worker ants, she shifts the responsibilities to the first born batch.
Ant eggs are small, about half a millimeter in diameter. They are white with sticky surfaces. Ant eggs are kept in special cells that have the right temperatures for them to develop healthily. The eggs are tended by worker ants, who clean, protect and when necessary, transport them to different locations. This may happen especially when the nest in under attack and the eggs have to be put to safety.
It is fascinating to see how organized and intelligent the ants may be. They seem to have some sort of family bond where they have a social mentality: all for one and one for all. The stickiness of the eggs come in handy in times like this because the eggs adhere to each other forming big lumps that are easier and faster to transport as compared to having to carry each egg individually.
During this stage, there is really not much that goes on other than development. The eggs are immobile and do not feed. They are simply kept clean and at the right temperatures for development to happen successfully. The head and digestive systems are the first to develop as seen in the next stage where the larvae have showing heads and have the ability to eat and process their foods.
Ant eggs are not all bad
Ant eggs have several uses to both the ant colony and to humans. It has been found that during times of drought or scarcity of food, the queen and some of the worker ants may feed on the eggs for survival. Some insects such as termites and locusts also enjoy these eggs and they seem to raid ant hills for the same.
Ant eggs are important to human beings because like the locusts, some people also seem to find these to be a delicacy. Thais eat them fried or boiled and admit that ant eggs are healthier and more nutritious than chicken eggs. They therefore raid ant hills in order to collect these eggs and either eat themselves or sell in the market for others to eat.
The Thais and Chinese have used ant eggs for a long time as a source of medicine. The red ant eggs have been seen to relieve fatigue and dizziness by simply inhaling them while the black ant eggs have been found to boost the human immune system. In the modern market, these eggs are dried and sold in bottles like those of drugs. They can be taken directly as they are or sprinkled on top of food. Because they contain acetic acid, ant eggs can serve the same purpose as vinegar.
Ant eggs have also been seen to be lucrative in the market. Ant keeping has overtime become a popular hobby and therefore most people have their own colonies reared at home. While some collect the ants in the wild on their own, some people simply leave the collection part to the pet store owner and they simply come to buy either ant eggs or a queen ant and with her begin a colony.
While ants may be a nuisance especially when they have made their nest within your home, ant eggs are not poisonous and pose no immediate danger. They are however a sign that the ant nest is growing and it is advisable for one to get professional exterminators before the ant population gets out of hand.
The presence of ant eggs may also lead to the presence of predators such as the lizard, spiders and different types of birds in or around your house. However these are not the only ones that enjoy a good bite. It has been found that when larvae and eggs are kept together, some of the larger larvae may feed on the eggs if they are hungry. This can be assumed to be some sort of cannibalism.